AFBHS Response to Social Injustice

I was three years old in the late 60s of the Civil Rights Movement. I lived in the inner city. My older sister wasn’t home. And so one of my earliest memories is being afraid. Where was my sister? Would she get hurt? Would I see her again? I comforted myself in my three-year-old wisdom that my sister was White, and therefore would not be killed. Well, the fact is that my sister is not White, but at that age, I didn’t quite know the difference between that and being light-skinned. In the many years since, I’ve often reflected on that moment and come away with a sad truth. After only three years on this earth, I had internalized that White meant safe and Black meant endangered.

Unfortunately, since that time and I have had many more reasons to reflect on racism, how I am perceived, and what spaces I am allowed to safely inhabit due to the color of my skin. Finally, I reached a point where I accepted I could never do enough or be enough to be treated the same. I learned obtaining a doctorate degree and owning my own business did not make me enough. Winning awards did not make everyone in the room think I deserved one. I learned I have to think about things that those with privilege do not, like questioning how you were treated and if it was because of the color of your skin.

Here's an example. A few years ago I was treated poorly at a bank by Breton Village. My business that follows standard, ethical practices was suddenly not allowed to deposit insurance checks at that location while another branch allowed us to do so without issue. When I said I wanted to close my account after they froze it without notice or any promise of remedy, they told me they were busy. I went to the bank immediately where there was only one customer and several employees ready to help, yet they pretended they didn’t see me. Later we asked about picking up a check for the account balance and they told us to come to the drive through, not inside. Many in the Black community know the feeling, know the questions that cycle your thoughts. Did they treat me this way because I’m Black? I do not have the privilege of not having to wonder. This is one example of many, but this is not to tell my life’s story, but to expose the things we as a society have long chosen to sweep under the rug in hopes that through the pain we might heal and collectively build a better tomorrow.

The point of this letter is to let you know what may seem obvious, that I, and my team support and stand for equality, fair treatment, social justice, advocacy, and access to medical and mental health resources for everyone AND to provide you with some resources. We not only want to promote an awareness surrounding mental health but acknowledge our support to increase awareness about racism and how to create an anti-racist society. We help our clients find their voices and to speak up assertively about their concerns. This is no time for us to shrink in the shadows, but rather a time for us to add our voice.

Adolescent & Family Behavioral Health Services is a multicultural practice. Our therapists, employees, and interns are Black, White, Biracial, Native American, and Hispanic. We are a team and in many ways, we are a family by choice. We would like you to know that we are grieving and outraged with the world over the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and all the black lives unfairly taken and destroyed that came before them. In our effort to be a part of the solution we want to make ourselves available to you by discussion and through our professional services. We know healing cannot truly happen until the blood shed stops. You cannot live in trauma AND be expected to be okay at the same time. We are committed as a team and individually to continue to grow in knowledge, understanding, and support of bringing awareness to these issues and to ending racism and systematic oppression. Our commitment starts with us. Our team will not only make donations, but we will engage in trainings, listen and share stories, and be visible in our community. We will keep the dialog going beyond this time of outrage and not wait until another Black life is taken to pick up the mantle again.

We are committed to continuously caring for, empowering, and encouraging ourselves, our clients, and our community. Being sad and outraged is not enough. Talking about it is not enough. We have to be about it. All of us have the opportunity to be a part of systemic change long needed in this country and the world.

OUR CURRENT PRIORITIES

▪ Be present for our clients and provide a safe place for them to express whatever feelings they have regardless of similarities or differences in our stance.
▪ Provide tools for coping and managing stress for our clients and community.
▪ Make donation(s) to local grass-roots organizations that focus on decreasing racism and increasing awareness.
▪ Make ourselves available for meaningful discussion within the community.
▪ Identify training for our therapists to be in attendance (above and beyond our licensure requirements).
Be present for our clients and provide a safe place for them to express whatever feelings they have regardless of similarities or differences in our stance.
Provide tools for coping and managing stress for our clients and community.
Make donation(s) to local grass-roots organizations that focus on decreasing racism and increasing awareness.
Make ourselves available for meaningful discussion within the community.
Identify training for our therapists to be in attendance (above and beyond our licensure requirements).

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR YOU

▪ It is your own responsibility to educate yourself, it is not the responsibility of the Black community. Guide your own education by reading books, articles and studies on the history and effects of injustice, racism and inequity. Learn by listening to webinars, podcasts and watching documentaries and movies.
▪ Explore your own identity and learn about your own implicit or explicit biases.
▪ Be brave and explore topics that are unfamiliar and uncomfortable. That is a part of learning and developing.
▪ Highlight and mark areas of interest. Dig deeper and learn the background.
▪ Engage in discussion with your peers, friends and family.
▪ Pass on information you’ve learned or found helpful. Share articles, books, documentaries, etc.
▪ Make donations and encourage others to do so nationally or locally to a cause or movement of your passion. Verify the donations are going to the cause and not just administrative expenses or charge card fees.
▪ You have an audience on your social platforms. Make posts that amplify the voices of others who are against racism. Choose not to be a bystander or laugh it off when you see others making posts in support of racial injustice and systems that reinforce it. Elevate Black voices and organizations. Show honor to the victims of racial injustice by using the victims full names.
▪ Look for opportunities to volunteer or participate in activism with safe demonstrations.
▪ Please let us know if we can walk alongside you on this journey.
It is your own responsibility to educate yourself, it is not the responsibility of the Black community. Guide your own education by reading books, articles and studies on the history and effects of injustice, racism and inequity. Learn by listening to webinars, podcasts and watching documentaries and movies.
Explore your own identity and learn about your own implicit or explicit biases.
Be brave and explore topics that are unfamiliar and uncomfortable. That is a part of learning and developing.
Highlight and mark areas of interest. Dig deeper and learn the background.
Engage in discussion with your peers, friends and family.
Pass on information you’ve learned or found helpful. Share articles, books, documentaries, etc.
Make donations and encourage others to do so nationally or locally to a cause or movement of your passion. Verify the donations are going to the cause and not just administrative expenses or charge card fees.
You have an audience on your social platforms. Make posts that amplify the voices of others who are against racism. Choose not to be a bystander or laugh it off when you see others making posts in support of racial injustice and systems that reinforce it. Elevate Black voices and organizations. Show honor to the victims of racial injustice by using the victims full names.
Look for opportunities to volunteer or participate in activism with safe demonstrations.
Please let us know if we can walk alongside you on this journey.

Warm Regards,
Dr. Valencia Agnew and Your AFBHS Team

 
       
 
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